Sharon Boulter, Research Participation Officer, shares how our Join Dementia Research helpdesk connects people with exciting studies.
One of the difficulties that dementia researchers face is finding enough volunteers to take part in their studies – research that’s vital to understand causes, develop treatments, improve care and hopefully one day find a cure. At the same time, many people would like to volunteer but don’t know how.
Join Dementia Research is here to help. Through this nationwide service, anyone over 18 – with or without a dementia diagnosis – can register to hear about studies that are looking for volunteers just like you.
You can sign up to Join Dementia Research online but, as one of its charity partners, the Society also operates a helpdesk that you can call to find out more and to register. We know not everyone can get online, and some would rather talk to a person anyway.
On our helpdesk, we often share the benefits of being involved in dementia research.
This includes knowing you’re helping people living with dementia now, as well as transforming the impact that the condition will have in future.
Taking part provides a sense of purpose and offers hope. It also helps to know you’re part of a larger community of people who are all working together to get us closer to the next breakthrough.
All kinds of studies
On the helpdesk we answer lots of questions, dispel any myths about being involved in research and reassure callers about how it’s completely safe to take part.
The most common question we get asked is, ‘What kind of studies can I get involved in?’
There are so many kinds! Some involve following a lifestyle programme, trying out new devices, or taking part in talking or music therapies.
Others ask you to participate in a focus group, try a new medication, take part in a telephone or online interview, or simply complete a questionnaire.
If you decide to register for Join Dementia Research over the phone, we can see if you’ve immediately been matched with any studies. If you have, we can provide an overview of them and what they expect of volunteers.
People always have the choice to take part in a particular study or not – there’s never an obligation just because you’ve signed up to find out about them.
We continue to answer people’s queries after they’ve registered, and I love being part of a team that gives anyone who wants to hear about and be involved in dementia research the opportunity to do so.